BALTIMORE, Oct. 3 (UPI) -- Three-quarters of new U.S. mothers initiate breast feeding, a significant increase, but the rate drops at six months to a year, a report says.
A report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention surveyed how many women follow doctor recommendations about breast feeding, The Baltimore Sun reported.
A large percentage of women appear to be eager and aware of the benefits and start out breastfeeding, the CDC report said.
But despite the increase in women who at least begin to breastfeed, the rates of breastfeeding at six months and a year and rates of exclusive breastfeeding at three and six months are still low, the report said.
A lack of support for new mothers in obstetricians' offices, in the hospitals where they give birth and in their offices when they return to work creates barriers, Kim Knight, the president of the Maryland Breastfeeding Coalition, says.
Many businesses do not have facilities for women to pump breast milk during the workday, she says, though is a requirement for such space included in the federal health care reform law.
"We think women are getting the message about the benefits of breastfeeding," Knight says. "But a lot more has to be done to support moms who initiate breastfeeding."
She cited several Maryland businesses recently given "Breastfeeding-Friendly Workplace Awards" from state health officials.
Such businesses can expect lower absenteeism, more productivity and lower health care costs because women who breast-feed tend to have healthier babies, Knight says.